- Trump said a "Mexican" couldn't judge him fairly, reportedly rejected a Secretary of State candidate for being too short, and demanded immigrants from Norway instead of "shithole countries." These facts are related.
- Trump operates by prejudice and superficiality.
- His prejudice leads him to evaluate people by external characteristics, and his superficiality makes him unable to see past his prejudice.
President Donald Trump has said he likes to seek out appointees from "central casting," who have a physical appearance that suggests they can perform their job duties. He is proud, for example, that Mike Pence is a "central casting" vice president.
He rejects other job candidates for superficial reasons — for example, The New York Times reported he told aides Sen. Bob Corker, at five-feet, seven-inches tall, was too short to be Secretary of State.
He thinks a judge can't provide him a fair trial if that judge is "Mexican" — actually of Mexican descent, born in Indiana.
He'll hire a Jewish lawyer or doctor even if that person is manifestly incompetent, because Jews are good at those things.
All these things are related. They all stem from the fact that our president is an extremely prejudiced man and also an extremely superficial one.
Some conservatives have been trying to make this week's immigration conversation about skills — insisting the president wants changes to immigration law to prioritize immigrants who are educated and speak English. But that's not what the president himself said he wanted on Thursday.
He said he doesn't want immigrants from "shithole" places like Haiti, or countries in Africa.
"Why do we want these people from all these shithole countries here?" he asked.
Trump's objection to African immigration is no more related to TOEFL scores than his choice not to nominate Corker was about his votes in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
The president's prejudice causes him to make snap judgments about people, and his superficiality makes him incapable of processing information that might countermand his prejudices. Corker is too short, and, as implied by Trump's alleged remarks on Thursday, the Africans are too black.
Erick Erickson asked this question rhetorically, but I think it's worth addressing:
This is not how the president thinks about it.
President Trump can't focus on the idea that this theoretical Ghanaian immigrant wants the American dream, or that the white, blond Norwegian has fundamental values disagreements with him.
He sees the Norwegian guy and sees a "central casting," Americanized immigrant. The Ghanaian did not come from central casting. In the president's view, he came from a shithole.
You might think this isn't about race, that it's just a rich-country, poor-country thing, but then you'll notice the president isn't clamoring for more Japanese immigration to the US.
I think the president is somewhat mistaken about the extent to which the immigration bills he has endorsed would serve the racist goals he has. In part because he is so superficial and so prejudiced, he doesn't realize how many Africans have the qualifications to pass the skills tests that would be established by a law like the RAISE Act.
Of course, the overall decrease in immigration under RAISE would slow the pace of diversification, which itself would serve the president's goal of a whiter country. But the president's intentions matter a great deal, and so do his words.
That the president wants an immigration policy aimed at making the country whiter, so more of the people who live here look like they came from central casting, is horrifying, regardless of the actual effects of policies he makes.